New York State Leaders Address COVID-19 Winter Surge

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ALBANY – As the holiday season comes to a close, leaders in New York are working to combat COVID-19 and rolling out a new plan to make testing kits available across the Empire State.

As previously predicted, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Monday cases are on the rise due to the winter surge. She says it is now on the state to respond to these numbers.

“So we’re continuing to work on our winter surge plan, making more testing available,” says Hochul. “And reminding everyone we have ordered and are starting to receive 37 million testing kits, which are critically important to make sure that people can ensure they’re safe before they gather with individuals or go to their jobs.”

The surge is extended all throughout the Northeast. In Western New York, the 7-day average per 100,000 cases was almost 69. Additionally, there were 363 hospitalizations in WNY over December 25th and 26th.

“We’ve taken major action to increase bed capacity and also protect critical services as part of our winter surge plan and it’s been working right now,” assures Hochul. “We required hospitals to scale up their capacity. This was not done this week or even last week. This was talked about at the end of October and through November. So we did pause non-essential elective surgeries in hospitals with limited capacity, which we defined as having 10% or less capacity at the time.”

The state also expanded the eligible healthcare force, allowed more healthcare workers to administer vaccines, deployed the National Guard to nursing homes, and is working with hospitals to deploy staff to the most critical areas.

Governor Kathy Hochul also praised the hospitals on increasing bed capacity as there has been an 8 percent increase statewide. She says she is speaking with President Biden on how the federal government can help combat the winter surge.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett discussed concerns over pediatric cases.

“We’d observed an uptick in pediatric admissions, concentrated in the New York City area, where there was an increase of about four fold,” shares Basset. “And those data reported on Friday, among the children who are aged five to 11, none had been vaccinated.”

“ We’re releasing this data because we want pediatricians to be alert to making the diagnosis of COVID in children and we also want parents to be alert to the diagnosis,” says Basset. “Many people continue to think that children don’t become infected with COVID. This is not true. Children become infected and some will be hospitalized. The immunization coverage in this group, the vaccination coverage, remains too low.”

Dr. Basset also noted the changes in the state’s isolation rules for vaccinated workers, saying they can return to work masked after 72 hours of having no fever and only minor symptoms.

Additionally, she encouraged nursing home residents to get their booster shots, as data shows that two-thirds of all COVID deaths have been those 65 year of age and above.

The state is also working to make sure children can stay in school, reporting that 3 million tests will be sent out this week.


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